Saffron Prawns Risotto (Indian Style)

Are you a risk taker? I am, but… my risk taking is mostly limited to one thing, cooking! I should say, apart from making pretty basic stuff like tea, coffee, omelet etc; everything else was an adventure for me. When I try out something new and if it turns out well, it gives me a high! I think that’s one of the reasons I got hooked on to cooking.

When I got married 7.5 years ago… I had no idea about any sort of kitchen management, like what all pans and pots you need, what kind of dinner set you need and was absolutely clueless about the grocery part too. Okay, can you promise not to laugh at me? I still have some cloves (grambu) with me which I bought during my very first grocery shopping in Bahrain! Those days I never knew any measurement, less than a kg! So now you know why I said everything related to cooking was an adventure for me in the beginning.

Risotto with sauce
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Risotto with Lemon Garlic Sauce

Those days when I cooked, if a recipe called for some unusual ingredient, I made sure that I had it in my kitchen, that too minimum of 1 kg, even though I’ll be using it for just one time. I should say I had a grocery aisle of a mini supermarket at home. I never thought about ‘substitution', that word was alien to me those days. Fast forward to present, my kitchen cupboard looks like the grocery aisle of a closing down mini supermarket ;) Somethings you learn in life through mistakes and experience, right? So experience taught me that if you are buying an expensive ingredient, buy it in a very small qty and make sure that you use it one way or another.

Recently, when I saw Nita Mehta’s book, “Italian cooking for the Indian kitchen”, at a friend’s place I wanted to check it out then and there itself. Though I haven’t tasted a wide variety of Italian dishes, somehow Italian cooking is something that fascinates me. I think the title of the book, is what made me more excited “Italian cooking for the Indian kitchen”.

Fortunately, Nita Mehta’s book calls for ingredients which I normally use. I was pretty curious to try out some recipes and this is the first one I tried from that book. My previous experiments with her recipe, Dal Makhani and Chicken Malai Kabab were good, so I was almost sure about this dish too and I wasn't disappointed. I’ve adapted the recipe from her book, but I’ve given the measurements I used.

Here you go….

Soak saffron threads in warm water. Heat butter in a pan and add minced garlic.

Step 14
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Add onion and fry till soft. Add washed rice and toast it lightly.

Step 23
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Add salt, pepper, coriander/parsley, saffron, water to the rice. Let it boil. Reduce flame and cover and cook. Meanwhile, heat butter in another pan and add minced garlic.

Step 33
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Add prawns, lemon juice, salt to the pan and cook for 3-5 mins, till the prawns are cooked. When the water in the rice is nearly dry, add the cooked prawns with stock and grated cheese. Mix gently.

Step 41
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Risotto with sauce
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Saffron Prawns Risotto

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Servings: 2
Author: Maria Jose


For Rice

  • 1.5 tbsp Butter
  • 1 .5 tsp Garlic (crushed/minced)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp Saffron
  • 1 med – big Onion (chopped finely)
  • 3/4 cup Rice (refer notes)
  • 1 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp Pepper powder
  • 2 tbsp Chopped parsley / coriander (I used coriander)
  • 1/8 cup White wine (optional (I didnt use))
  • 1/2 cup Grated cheese (I used a combination of mozzarella and cheddar)
  • Salt

For Prawns

  • 250 gms Prawns (measured after cleaning(you can use chicken instead))
  • 1.5 tbsp Butter
  • 1.5 tsp Garlic (crushed/minced)
  • 1.5 tsp Lemon juice
  • Salt

For Lemon Sauce (refer notes)

  • Butter – 1 tbsp
  • Lemon juice – 1 1/2 -2 tbsp
  • Garlic – 1 tsp (crushed/minced)
  • Dried herbs – 1 tsp (I used Rosemary, Thyme & Oregano)
  • Cornflour – 1 tsp
  • Water – 1/4 cup


  • Soak saffron strands in 2 tbsp warm water. Keep aside. Heat 1 1/2 tbsp butter in a deep pan. Add minced garlic and fry for 1 min. Add onion fry till soft. Add washed rice and stir gently on low heat for 2-3 mins, till it gets toasted lightly.
  • Add salt, pepper, parsley/coriander, wine (if using), saffron along with the water in which it was soaked. Add water and bring it to boil. Reduce heat and cook covered on low heat.
  • Meanwhile, heat 1 1/2 tbsp butter in a pan. Add 1 1/2 tsp garlic. Fry for a few seconds. Add prawns, lemon juice and salt. Cook for 3-5 mins. Do not overcook or the prawns will get tough.
  • When the water in the rice is nearly dry, add prawns along with any stock and grated cheese. Mix gently. Cover and cook till all the water is absorbed.
  • To make lemon sauce, melt butter in a pan and add minced garlic. Fry it for a min. Add lemon juice, salt and dried herbs. Mix well. Add cornflour to water and mix well. Add this to the sauce and let it boil. Reduce flame and simmer for a min or so.


Though the dish is called Saffron Prawns risotto, in my version, the lemon flavour was dominant with a slight hint of saffron. The lemon sauce isnt there in the original recipe. That's something I made and I definitely suggest making it, if you like a lemon garlicky flavour. You can either add it to the rice and mix, or keep it on side. Since the lemon sauce was a last min addition, I dont have the pics of the same :( Prawns can be substituted with chicken or mushroom for a veg variation. The recipe called for any short grain rice, I used sona masuri rice. I used Al Marai grated cheese.
Tried this recipe? Let others know by…mentioning @mariasmenu or tagging #mariasmenu
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8 thoughts on “Saffron Prawns Risotto (Indian Style)”

  1. Thanks for your wonderful recipies. I myself am a newly wed and clueless about cooking until i bumped into your blog :) I cant thank you enough :) Id like to ask which rice do you use for risotto .. isnt it arborio rice in particular? Also how long do you think it will take for the rice to get cooked? Also when you say a cup how much exactly would you guess with terms of a steel glass which i use for measurements …
    Happy Onam to you and your family

    • Hi Jenny,

      First of all, congrats on your wedding! Wish you a happy and blessed married life!

      Great to know that you find this space useful. I’ve used sona masuri rice in this recipe. Since I’ve made an Indian version of risotto, it’s mostly Indian ingredients.
      Usually arborio rice is used for risotto, but I havent tried cooking with it yet… The cup I use is 240 ml, approx, hope it helps…


  2. Hi Maria ..hw r u ..I am back here after a gap..was very much busy with kids ..:)
    Prawns Risotto looks so perfect and delicious …nice shots too..

  3. Your 1 kg cloves story reminds me of my initial days after wedding & cooking achinga for my hubby .landed up putting garam masala in it.needless to say ,it was not great .anyways hve improved a lot from those days :D

  4. deja vu darling!!!! i too have some stuff from my first grocery shopping!!!we seem to have gotten married around the same time…i got married in july 8th anniversary jus around the corner…wht abt u????we may have passed each other during those clueless grocery shopping days…


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